Riverside County water district files lawsuit against 3M, DuPont, others over PFAS

SL Environmental Law Group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rubidoux Community Services District against 3M Company, E.I. DuPont de Nemours, Inc., and other manufacturers of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) for their involvement in the manufacture and sale of per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) that have contaminated groundwater supplies within Rubidoux’s service area, which includes much of Jurupa Valley in Riverside County, California.

Jeff Sims, Rubidoux’s general manager, said “Rubidoux has worked to identify and treat wells that have been contaminated with PFAS to ensure the safety of these crucial water supplies. Through this lawsuit, Rubidoux is seeking to protect the ratepayers in our service area and ensure that the costs of cleaning up these contaminants are borne by 3M, DuPont, and the other companies that sold and profited from their products containing PFAS.”

The Rubidoux Community Services District, California, provides water, wastewater and fire protection services to a community that has grown from 4,000 to over 35,000 over the past 50 plus years. Additional services include trash collection and disposal, street lighting, weed abatement and fire prevention programs.

PFAS are persistent toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate when released into the environment. Exposure to certain PFAS has been associated with several negative health outcomes in both humans and animals. PFAS has impacted surface water and groundwater throughout the country resulting in hundreds of similar suits brought forward by water providers, and mostly against the same defendants, in an ongoing multidistrict litigation supervised by a federal judge in South Carolina.

PFAS have been used for decades in AFFF, certain industrial processes, and in the production of thousands of common household and commercial products that are heat resistant, stain resistant, long lasting, and water and oil repellant. The PFAS family of chemicals is entirely man-made and does not exist in nature.

“The manufacturers and sellers of PFAS containing products–3M, DuPont, and other defendants–knew that these products would likely pollute groundwater, yet they failed to take reasonable and available steps to avoid the use of PFAS in products and failed to provide warnings that using these products as directed could result in groundwater contamination,” said Ken Sansone, partner at SL Environmental Law Group. “Through this lawsuit, Rubidoux is asserting its rights under California law to ensure the quality and availability of water resources to the millions of citizens and businesses who rely on those resources. Rubidoux wants to ensure that it is the corporations whose products are responsible for contaminating its water that pay the substantial costs of cleaning it up.”

SL Environmental Law Group (SL) is handling Rubidoux’s case as part of a consortium of law firms that has decades of experience representing municipalities and other water providers across the nation in efforts to recover the costs of treating groundwater contamination from the corporations whose products caused the contamination. This group of firms is representing several other water systems in Riverside County, as well as many other water systems throughout southern California and across the country, affected by PFAS.

SL has also been handling a similar lawsuit for Rubidoux, over a different contaminant in its water supplies, 1,2,3 trichloropropane (TCP), that resulted from agricultural fumigant products sold by Shell Oil Company and The Dow Chemical Company. SL was able to bring that case to a tentative settlement within 16 months of filing the lawsuit. For more information on Rubidoux Community Services District, visit rcsd.org.

SL Environmental Law Group focuses exclusively on water contamination litigation on behalf of city and state governments and public and private water utilities and other well owners. SL Environmental Law Group has delivered over $1 billion from corporate polluters to their clients. 

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